Thursday, 30 October 2014

Weather, or not...

I have just been lent a book on industrial locomotives by an old friend, who also showed me his latest build of a J94 in 7mm scale.
Now, obviously the J94 is "ex rattle can" at present, but Ozzie doesn't like to weather his models anyway and I can't say I blame him.

Weathering seems to have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous these days.  To the extent that you can even buy something off the shelf that some little Chinaman has already squirted dirty thinners at for you.
Now my friend and I tried to think of when we'd ever seen a loco in such a state of decrepitude as most of the filthy, dust covered and over rusted victims of a dozen books and a thousand products now represent on the average model railway.
He lived in the North East coal mining regions as a kid and I lived on the edge of East London grime, but when Brittanias and A4s went thundering through my local station, they were shiny, in either direction.  So was the DMU on the branch line and so were the Standard 4MTs on the parallel line. And the full NCB livery was always on show proudly up Ozzie's neck of the woods too. You didn't get covered in muck when you were jostled for the electric commuter trains or the underground once you got to that filthy hole, London.  OK, a little of the shine may have worn off the paint, but they didn't look like they lived their entire lives in the Cornish china clay district without ever being washed!  And that's the look that most people are giving their train sets these days, often at great expense by paying someone else to do it, too!
Everything looks terminally dusty now.  Irresponsibly rusty.  Everything looks like it has already spent years in Barry Island waiting for the ernests to save the money to buy it and take it back to some upstart "heritage" line.

Now, we all know the track level bits will be a bit oily/greasy/dusty, especially on a diesel or electric commuter train, but you shouldn't see panels so racked with rust that they look ready to drop off through perforation any time.  Not that I look at diesels much anyway.
But the thing that interested me and Ozzie was how clean most of the locos in the book of industrials were.  Never worse than semi shiny (oily rag cleaning tricks, see?) with, at worse, a few limescaley leaks from water/steam fittings and a bit of grime below decks. And all in working situations, not ex Works for the company photographer, either, but working.

So, come on, you powders, pigments and expensive double action, work if you're bloody lucky airbrush fans.  Have a good look at some photos of the real things.  Don't pick out the exceptional, one way or the other, just have a gander at the everyday ordinary loco and ask yourself if all it needs isn't just just a coat of semi-matt varnish and a few streaks.

Unless, of course, you are on a bragging fight as to who can spend the most with someone who takes a small fortune for messing up your loco and stock "professionally".


  1. Agree for the most part old chum. Remember there is an ocean between us however. :-)
    Rather than bore everyone here I sent you another email with some information I have discovered .....again.

  2. I do agree in general with what you are saying, Martin. Trouble is that I spent my teens in the North West, watching the last gasp of steam. My mate and I copped every shed from Speke to Lostock Hall in two years and we only ever saw one clean(ish) loco. The 9Fs were the worst, I saw one coming and I thought it had been painted red but as it drew near I realised it was rust! One day at Bolton Dave dragged me over to where a 4MT was standing and you could just about see traces of lining...we were amazed. When I moved back to Scotland, near the Waterside line, the locos were indeed clean...because a bunch of enthusiasts, including yours truly, cleaned them! For proper baroque grime and loco abuse of the worst order, Polkemmett colliery was the place. However, I have seen photos of clean-ish locos elsewhere, and I do see the odd clean loco in my albums of 1950's scenes. Obviously before that, everything was much more cared for, but I remember one upsetting holiday in the West Country when I saw a horribly rusty Castle, sans nameplates, on a freight only sighting of that class out of preservation...sad times. But yes, folk do rather over-egg the weathering, there's nothing nicer than a believable patina of grime on a well-looked after loco!

  3. Our relative countries/regions seem to have been quite different.
    I often wonder, though, if these dust mongers stop to ask themselves whether they have reflected the soil of the area in their pallette. Chalk, versus ironstone, etc. And if the locos are so badly kept, they'd be very greasy and oily, but that seems hardly ever to be seen or depicted convincingly. What I see seems nearly always to be a dust fest, rather than a true dirt job in all its forms. A lack of imagination or correct observation, for which there is no excuse as photos abound. And no, I won't be doing it myself as I don't have any locos that I would want depicted as wrecks. Maybe that's why I once planned a layout that depicted a Heritage line. Line up what you like and run nothing, as the Board of Trade had yet to grant a License!